Union Reps OK to Accompany OSHA Inspections

by Thomas Buckley at californiaglobe.com

A new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule will allow union reps to accompany agency inspections of worksites even if said worksite is non-union.

On a media call Thursday afternoon, Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker said the “clarification” being codified and to take effect Monday finally cleans up the results of a 2017 civil case regarding the ability of an employer and/or an employee to ask for a third party outside person to take part in jobsite safety inspections.

“Worker involvement in the inspection process is essential for thorough and effective inspections and making workplaces safer,” said Parker. “The Occupational Safety and Health Act gives employers and employees equal opportunity for choosing representation during the OSHA inspection process, and this rule returns us to the fair, balanced approach Congress intended.”

Employee participation in the process, added Parker, “fosters trust” between worker and employer and is “crucial” to the process.

The final rule is a very slight tweak from the initial proposal and leaves in the phrase that anyone who accompanies a ‘walkaround” inspection be “must be reasonably necessary to conduct an effective and thorough inspection.”

But businesses worry that still leaves the door wide open to having a union representative being delegated by the employee of a non-union workplace as their walkaround “plus one.”   

The issue with a union rep as the floor is the possibility they will go beyond a “safety check” and be able to surreptitiously gain information about the non-union shop they may hope to unionize in the future or to even actually promote the union while on the shop floor, something they would not at all normally be allowed to do.

That exact scenario has occurred numerous times in the past, said Rep. Virgina Foxx, chair of the house Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Last year, Foxx wrote that the proposed changes have “absolutely nothing to do with keeping workers safe. OSHA giving the green light to union operatives and activists to infiltrate non-union worksites during safety inspection walkarounds is blatantly intended to give unions access to employer private property and aid in organizing efforts.”